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Hawaii Island Declares Emergency over Increasing Number of Dengue Fever Cases

Update Date: Feb 09, 2016 09:32 AM EST
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While U.S. health officials focus on combating the Zika virus, which has been spreading throughout central and South America, the people in Hawaii are battling another mosquito-borne virus.

The mayor of the island of Hawaii, commonly known as the Big Island, has declared a state of emergency on Monday over the increasing number of dengue fever cases. On the island, there have been 251 confirmed cases of dengue fever since Oct. 29, which is the highest number of cases that has been recorded since the 1940s.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi's declaration will allow people to dispose of their old tires in landfills to prevent the mosquito population from growing. Mosquitos like to breed in tires that have been left around.

Hawaii governor David Ige stated that he supports the order but will not be declaring a state of emergency for all of Hawaii unless dengue fever starts to spread out of the Big Island, the outbreak needs more resources and/or the outbreak includes the Zika virus.

"Mayor Kenoi and his team on the Big Island have been on it from the first report," Ige said a week ago reported by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. "They've done a terrific job of engaging the communities and engaging us, and we've been cooperating with them from the beginning, providing the resources that they need to ensure that we can respond on behalf of the people."

If Ige declares dengue fever a statewide emergency, Hawaii could receive funds to help control the outbreak.

Dengue fever is a viral disease that is characterized by symptoms such as high fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, headache or pain around the back of the eye area. In severe cases, an infection can lead to life-threatening symptoms such as bleeding and shock.

Although dengue fever can be more severe than the Zika virus, officials have been focused on the latter due to the fact that there is evidence linking Zika virus to birth defect, microcephaly.

For more information on the outbreak, click here.

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